Sunday, November 30, 2008



November 29 2008

No, I am not a “democrat”. For nothing is more embarrassing than to be put in the same moral and intellectual brackets as our MPs.

Being half-baked products of the Western classroom, our politicians know only one form of democracy — election.

This defines democracy only by the manner in which the people latch onto their leaders. Because money is crucial to it and the ballot can be manipulated in a hundred ways, their democracy is already leaking from all sides.

But, more importantly, what the elected person does with his mandate is squarely outside our ambit of democracy. Liberal democracy has nothing at all to do with what happens during the five years between one election and another.

In a word, as long as democracy is not tied to any moral, intellectual and professional benchmarks – as long as election is an end in itself — the elected person can commit any crime without a whiff of compunction.

Since the mass is abysmally ignorant of its self-interests, when he returns to the mass five years later to seek re-election, he can make exactly the same cynical promises and yet convince the mass to support him even more enthusiastically.

The electorate is an ass.

I prefer democracy as defined by those who coined that term. To Pericles of Athens, democracy was a political instrument by which the overwhelming majority was implementing a clear providential programme.

The manner in which the plebeians grabbed that power from the aristocracy did not define that democracy. But even an armed revolution could qualify as democratic — not because it was “free and fair” (and all that kind liberal chatter) – but only because the vast majority had taken part in it.

Certainly, what we claim to be “representation” was not part of its democratic content. Democracy was political power being deployed by the broad mass to dictate a new system of disposing of society’s cultural, economic and intellectual goods and services.

To Rousseau, democracy was all the people conflating all their time, ingenuities and other resources in the service of all the people. This was a far cry from our “democracy”, in which, every five years, we waste untold resources — and even slaughter one another – just so as to elect a new set of ravenous parasites.

THUS PARLIAMENT – COLONIALLY IMPOSED ON US AS A democratic panacea – holds the whole nation to permanent and debilitating ransom. It serves no purpose that I know of – except as a means of appointing a new government.

But, during its five-year tenure, MPs and ministers live exactly like lice and bed bugs, sucking blood from Kenyans ceaselessly, ruthlessly and, when accosted, remorselessly.

What do you call a person who gets fatter and fatter everyday without doing any work? A democrat or a conman?

Where millions are perishing from hunger, how do you tolerate a “democrat” who dips long fingers into the starveling’s own meagre savings by manipulating the legislative machine to dictate the “democrat’s” own emoluments, increase his perquisites way beyond the national ability and, when told to pay taxes, reacts like a dog – by biting the hand that feeds him?

Wahome Mutahi once wondered what happens “when hyenas go multi-party”.

In theory, they seek to convince us that Kenya will become even more democratic when they form themselves into a parliamentary opposition. But, no matter how sparkling a theory may be, only praxis can prove its worth.

In democratic practice, we would like to know, for instance, how such indefatigable oppositionist prophets as Ababu Namwamba voted on the question of taxing MPs.
If, during that vote, you did not oppose this legislative robbery of a mass already dehumanised by poverty, then please give us a break.

Hold your tongue for ever about an opposition in Parliament. We have had enough of such hypocrisy.

Instead, we want to know what you, as a young “democrat”, propose for lifting Kenyans out of consumer costs, crime, disease, hunger, ignorance, leisurelessness, nakedness, shelterlessness and the Noachian deluge in which Namwamba’s own Budalang’i people are drowning.

Never again open your mouth to yap about “democracy” and “opposition” until you recognise that democratic governance is defined only by the speed and quality with which the people are being emancipated from these scourges.

Formal opposition may add a morsel to democracy.

But your habit of opposing any and everything that the Government or the other parties may propose — even should a proposition be socially inspired — is known, not as democracy, but as rebellion without cause.

If you do not oppose this conspiracy by Parliament to rob the nation – a crime now openly endorsed by Speaker Kenneth Marende — then what will you be opposing when you become an official opposition?

And how do you expect me to join such a felonious bandwagon?

Submitted by jzee
Posted November 30, 2008 12:16 PM

It is amazing how we manage to elect only the most cynical to lead us.It is time we carried out massive civic education to ensure that our pple are more enlightened about the power they hold as citizens and stirred up a new dawn of nationalism which will empower the voter to discern the wolves and hounds while at the same time reducing apathy and create new hope.

Submitted by Mark_Evans
Posted November 30, 2008 07:28 AM

In some other visionary countries, folks of Philip Ochieng''s brilliance and discernment would be so valuable they'd be real development think-tanks in government; in our part of the world, thieving semi-literates run government while thieving illiterates man the legislature. And the electorate keeps taking himself back to the same election circus after every five years. Representative Democracy, indeed. But at what cost? We need to have our heads examined! Seriously.

Submitted by Observer01
Posted November 30, 2008 06:32 AM

You've caught Namwaba square on this one. Combined with his opposition on Waki Report, Namwaba should just keep very quiet. Bundarangi should start a search for another " Democrat" All the best Ochieng. Enjoy your sunday.

Submitted by Hillaryio
Posted November 30, 2008 04:56 AM

I totally agree with you,Phillip when you say that electorate is an ass. In 2012, these same thieves we call MPs will come to us, line us and hand us 50 bob notes and we shall vote for them and expect democracy to prevail. Instead what we'll see is "democracy" as usual. Infact, most MPs can't even define what democracy really means. It is upon us people to get smart and know how to deal with thieves. That is only if we can get out of our tribalistic shells and elect real leaders other than "my own"

Submitted by jon2xx4
Posted November 30, 2008 02:39 AM

This is BEST article this year so far! I readily concur that this parliament serves no purpose at all other than dipping long fingers into the treasury.

Submitted by obiero76
Posted November 30, 2008 02:12 AM

Thank you sir for putting the fat cats in their place.Who will save this nation and her people good lord?Kenyans are very decent and generous people who are continuously being robbed of the opportunity to exel through corruption by the political elit.Many atimes i shed tears for my motherland.